Pick of the early market news
While the FTSE 100 finished up 125.87 points at 5394.53 yesterday to reach its highest level since 3 August, its performance over the month in losing 400 points was the worst since 2008. The blue-chip index hit a low for the year on 10 August, and since then it has put on £101bn in value.
The upward momentum yesterday came on the back of a raft of takeover rumours. Shares in transport group National Express rose 16.4p, with Stagecoach named possible bidders. Smith & Nephew and engineer Renishaw also rose of takeover talk.
This morning, transport group Go-Ahead posted a 14% increase in operating profit of £115.1m in its full year results. That took pre-tax profits up 11.3% to £97.6m on revenue of £2,297m, an increase of 6%. Passenger revenue rose in both the bus and the rail division.
Earnings per share rose 291.7% to 135.2p and the company is to maintain the dividend payment at 81p. Chairman Sir Patrick Brown said: "We are assuming that the broad underlying operating trends experienced in the financial year will continue."
Punch Taverns says like-for-like net income for the fourth quarter was down 5%. This was the firm's first trading statement since the demerger of the Spirit business and the figure reflects the disposal of 398 pubs which has generated around £108m.
CEO Roger Whiteside said: "Punch is now a dedicated high quality leased and tenanted pub business. Having completed the demerger, we have a clear operational and strategic plan and we will build on the positive momentum delivered throughout this year.
Spirit, meanwhile, reports a 3.8% increased in like-for-like sales for the fourth quarter. CEO Ian Dyson said: "We have delivered another quarter of strong growth and have again outperformed the market. While the economic and consumer outlook remains challenging, we believe we have the right plans in place to enable us to make further progress."